The Bulls lost 95-92 on their home floor last night, but it was a loss that they should not be ashamed of. In fact, they should be proud of themselves simply for being able to field a competent starting lineup, because this team is an absolute mess.
Before last night's game, the Bulls were already shorthanded and banged up. Kirk Hinrich had gone down with bruised calf, Joakim Noah had essentially been playing on one leg thanks to his plantar fasciitis, and we're all familiar with the Derrick Rose saga. Things only got worse as last night's tip-off neared.
First, there were reports that Luol Deng was suffering from flu-like symptoms. No big deal, right? Wrong. Deng's symptoms were so severe that he had to have a freaking spinal tap to test for viral meningitis. The test came back negative, but Deng was still sent home after hobbling through the Bulls locker room like a hot mess for a few minutes.
Then it was revealed that both Nate Robinson and Taj Gibson were also sick, but both would play because, well, what other choice did the Bulls have? All of this led to the Bulls playing one of the ugliest, gutsiest games you'll ever see.
Every single Bulls starter aside from Carlos Boozer played almost the entire game. Joakim Noah, Jimmy Butler, Nate Robinson, and Marco Belinelli played 43, 48, 42, and 46 minutes, respectively. Taj Gibson played 18 minutes off the bench before fouling out, leaving Boozer to play another 33 minutes. Add it all up and the Bulls essentially played Game 6 with five-and-a-half players.
And that might be too generous of a number. Noah still had to drag around his bad foot, and Robinson was caught puking his guts out on the bench late in the game. And yet, the Bulls still managed to play a highly entertaining (if ugly) game.
Noah gritted out 14 points, 15 rebounds, and five blocks while frothing at the mouth in his usual way, Jimmy Butler filled in spectacularly for Deng with 17 points, seven boards, and six assists, and when Nate Robinson wasn't puking or falling down while trying to split double teams, he was busy undressing Kris Humphries.
And in the end, the game ended just as it should have: Joakim Noah stepped out of bounds after chasing down a Marco Belinelli miss, redeemed himself by tying up Deron Williams on the ensuing inbound, and then lost the game-deciding jump ball. It was a fittingly ugly and haphazard loss for an ugly and haphazard team.